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Spinal Cord. 2016 Jul;54(7):521-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2015.186. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

Locomotor improvement of spinal cord-injured rats through treadmill training by forced plantar placement of hind paws.

Author information

Department of Occupational Therapy, Aino University School of Health Sciences, Osaka, Japan.
Department of Neurorehabilitation, Graduate School of Health Sciences, Kio University, Nara, Japan.
Institute of Regeneration and Rehabilitation, Aino University School of Health Sciences, Osaka, Japan.
Department of General Education, Wakayama University, Wakayama, Japan.
Department of Rehabilitation, Takatsuki Red Cross Hospital, Osaka, Japan.
Department of Rehabilitation, Kyoto Kaisei Hospital, Kyoto, Japan.
Department of Rehabilitation, North Osaka Police Hospital, Osaka, Japan.
Department of Exercise and Functional Physiology, Graduate School of Health Sciences, Kio University, Nara, Japan.



Experimental training model of rats with spinal cord injury (SCI).


Osaka, JapanObjective:To investigate the effect of forced treadmill training by plantar placement (PP), as compared with dorsal placement (DP), of the dorsal paws on the locomotor behaviors of spinal cord-injured rats.


The spinal cord was contusion-injured at the thoracic level. Rats were divided into three groups: forced training involving stepping by PP and DP and non-forced training/assistance (nT). Training began 1 week after injury and was conducted for 4 weeks. Locomotor behaviors were estimated using Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan (BBB) scores, dorsiflexion of the hind paws and footprints of the hind paws. Histological and immunohistochemical examinations of the spinal cord lesions were conducted after 4 weeks of training.


The values, respectively, of PP, DP and nT groups at 4 weeks of training were as follows: BBB scores were 15.6±0.8, 7.7±1.3 and 10.3±0.4. The paw dorsiflexion angles were 34.1±5.2, 16.4±2.4 and 23.6±3.0 degrees, respectively. The stride angles were 5.1±0.9, 13.7±4.9 and 17.8±4.0 degrees for the left paws. Cavity volumes were 10.3±2.1, 31.0±2.0 and 28.2±4.9%. In addition to cavities, there were astrocyte-devoid areas containing some loose tissues, through which many axons extended longitudinally.


The BBB score, dorsiflexion angle and stride angle were consistently improved in the PP group. Cavity formation was more reduced, and many axons extended through coarse tissues formed in astrocyte-devoid areas at the lesion in the PP group. Forced training by PP of the hind paws promoted the behavioral and histological improvement of rats with SCI.

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